6 Ways I Cured My Persistent WFH Body Pain

About one full year into quarantine my body had reached its final WFH straw. I woke up one morning, after a particularly restless night of sleep, with pain in my shoulder that radiated down my arm and up into my jaw. Having suffered from a pinched nerve in the past, I figured this was something more minor that would clear up in a few days — but, this ended up not being the case. After suffering in silence for a week, I finally talked through the symptoms with my co-workers and got the nudge I needed to seek medical advice. I consulted my angel chiropractor, Dr. Megan Hondru, and discovered on the journey to recovery that I wasn't the only one experiencing acute physical discomfort. Dr. Hondru told me that she's seen an increase in patients with similar symptoms over the past year — which she attributes to both an increase in emotional stress and a decrease in physical activity. "When we have too much emotional stress (or any other kind of stress like physical or chemical) we store it in our bodies as a subluxation or misalignment, stiffness, and inflammation in our spine and nervous system," she explained while adding that, "working from home has created a lot of physical stress for people. There is less activity throughout the day without a commute, popping out for lunch, or walking over to a coworker's desk to talk something over." For many, like myself, working remotely has also resulted in a less than effective at-home workspace where ergonomic support isn't properly accounted for. To help cure current and prevent future discomfort, I took Dr. Hondru's expert advice for taking better care of my WFH body and combined it with helpful products and practices. Below, discover my full routine towards a more blissful pain-free existence.
Advertisement
DashDividers_1_500x100

1. Invest in ergonomic support...

After being (kindly) reprimanded for my lack of ergonomic workspace, I've implemented a few suggested desk accessories that have helped with proper alignment. I've propped my laptop up on these handy little feet so I can look straight ahead at my screen and I've also been using a footrest under my desk — which has made me sit like a real person and not like the pretzel goober I was sitting like before. A variable desk was suggested as another great option because it allows you to switch from sitting to standing throughout the day.

At a minimum, our works stations should allow for our eyes to gaze straight ahead at the screen. So if you're working from a laptop, it should be raised and add a remote keyboard to maintain relaxation in shoulders, elbows at 90 degrees, and neutral wrists. 

Dr. Megan Hondru
DashDividers_1_500x100

2. Apply ice packs and heating pads...

I was constantly switching between heating pads and cold packs throughout the day and ended up panic-ordering this giant shoulder ice pack in the middle of the night. It's truly revolutionary because sits on my shoulders without needing to be adjusted, stays cold for a long time, and provided some much-needed relief. You better believe this bad boy made a celeb appearance in a Zoom meeting or two.
DashDividers_1_500x100

3. Use a face roller to relieve jaw tension...

Let me tell you, the pulsing jaw pain was real and although there wasn't much I could do to fix the problem — besides wait it out — I decided to stick my jade face roller in the freezer for a few hours and then roll it along my jaw. It felt quite soothing and I, of course, was glad to kill two birds with one stone for its beauty properties, too.
Advertisement
DashDividers_1_500x100

4. Massage sore muscles with CBD balm...

I can't tell you how much CBD rub and Tiger Balm I've put on my neck and shoulders — I'm pretty positive I smelled like the medicinal stuff for at least a month straight. I survived nights by putting IcyHot patches on before bed and, while I'm not sure it actually helped the recovery process, the warming sensation distracted me from the throbbing as I was trying to fall asleep.
DashDividers_1_500x100

5. Use a foam roller to stretch out tense muscles...

When my body felt well enough, a foam roller was a really great tool for gentle stretching. I laid on it periodically to open up my back and shoulders.
DashDividers_1_500x100

6. Practice preventative movement by staying active...

When I felt fully recovered — and in order to prevent any future symptoms and care for my spine and nervous system long-term — I implemented regular movement back into my weekly routine (I'm a personal fan of long walks, pilates, and yoga). Movement in combination with drinking plenty of water, nourishing my body with balanced meals, and making sure I stand up from my desk regularly, will hopefully keep any unbearable pain at bay. Fingers crossed!

Getting up out of your chair frequently throughout the day is one of the most important things you can do to care for your spine and nervous system. Our brains and bodies need regular movement to be healthy.

DR. MEGAN HONDRU
DashDividers_1_500x100
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team, but if you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

More from Body

R29 Original Series

Advertisement